How to Bend Branches to Build a Trellis


A trellis archway invites people to follow a path, often leading to other interesting and attractive garden spots. Freshly cut willow branches can be easily bent to create a trellis archway. These branches are particularly useful because of their natural flexibility and attractive appearance. Once wired into position, plants and vines can be trained up over and through the trellis allowing just a hint of the underlying framework.

Step 1

Cut two fresh willow branches that are 14 to 16 feet long. You may want longer branches if your pathway is wider than 3 to 4 feet. Select 1 1/2-inch diameter limbs.

Step 2

Lay your branches out in a row with one end against a straight board or a fence. Trim off all side limbs, twigs and leaves using a lopper and even up the lengths of your branches.

Step 3

Sort your branches into pairs that are similar in size. Every branch will have some taper. Select one pair and overlap the tapered ends by 2 feet. Twist 16-gauge wire tightly around the pair starting 2 to 3 inches from where they overlap and every 6 to 8 inches between.

Step 4

Bring the branch ends together to form an arch. You can wire the ends together temporarily to hold the arch while you make more.

Step 5

Measure the width of your pathway and drive metal stakes into the ground using a sledgehammer. Allow at least 1 foot of the metal stake to remain above the ground.

Step 6

Wire your branches tightly to the metal stakes using 16-gauge wire. Use smaller branches attached horizontally between each upright. Wire across where the branches touch. This will add stability to your trellis structure.

Things You'll Need

  • 1-inch and 1/2-inch diameter willow branches
  • Tape measure
  • 16-gauge wire
  • Wire cutter
  • Pliers
  • Loppers
  • 3-foot metal stakes
  • Mini-sledge hammer


  • BCTV Handbook: Greenwood Plant Supports
  • Mother Earth News: Make Simple Garden Fences
Keywords: bent willow, willow trellis, wood trellis

About this Author

F.R.R. Mallory is a senior at UC Berkeley completing degrees in both Neuropsychology and English. She has been published since 1996 in both nonfiction and fiction, books, short stories, articles and essays. Her fiction short story "Black Ice" recently won a National Space Society contest.